But Darling, I'm Your Auntie Mame!: The Amazing History of the World's Favorite Aunt

Richard Tyler Jordan, Author
Richard Tyler Jordan, Author Capra Press $26 (200p) ISBN 978-0-88496-430-8
Reviewed on: 06/29/1998
Release date: 07/01/1998
Paperback - 200 pages - 978-0-88496-431-5
Paperback - 250 pages - 978-0-7582-0482-0
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Auntie Mame indisputably belongs to the pantheon of modern theatrical creations who have ascended from character to archetype, the grand old dame who initiates her young nephew into the joys of life in the big city. Generations of fans are certain to delight in this slight but entertaining anecdotal history of Auntie Mame's theatrical journey from a bestselling novel by Patrick Dennis to stage play to film (Auntie Mame) to Broadway musical and then film version of the musical (Mame). Jordan, a senior publicist at Walt Disney Studios, takes readers through the birthing process of each of these productions, filling his pages with reminiscences from those who lived them. The original play revived Rosalind Russell's faltering career; later, the musical did the same for Angela Lansbury. Judy Garland was interested in replacing Angela Lansbury when she departed after 775 performances, but the producers feared that Garland, who was brilliant in her audition, could not manage eight shows a week. When casting the movie version of Mame, Lucille Ball, who had a huge ""Q"" rating (public awareness level), was cast despite the apprehension of many theater and film people. Their fears were well taken: the reviews for the film in general and Ball in particular were scathing. Filled with wonderful anecdotes and backstage gossip, this is a colorful overview of how a now-classic play and musical, after some near-misses along the way, came to life. (July)
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